Monday, May 30, 2016


High Society was released 60 years ago, and surprisingly here is a tough review from Bosley Crowther. It originally appeared in the NY Times of August 10, 1956...

INTELLECTUALLY speaking, there was never much sense or sanity to Philip Barry's "The Philadelphia Story," either as play or film. Its tale of a young society woman whose psyche was so confused that she could think herself thoroughly devoted to a priggish fiancé, a magazine writer and her ex-husband all within the span of one day was a sheer piece of comedy contrivance. And its attractiveness on stage and screen was due almost wholly to the sparkle of Katharine Hepburn as its erratic heroine.

But now that its brittle material has been cast into a musical film, there is little chance of disguising its bright but synthetic qualities. "High Society," its new name set to music, is as flimsy as a gossip-columnist's word, especially when it is documenting the weird behavior of the socially elite. And with pretty and lady-like Grace Kelly flouncing lightly through its tomboyish Hepburn role, it misses the snap and the crackle that its un-musical predecessor had.

To be sure, there are moments of amusement in this handsomely set and costumed film, which was served up in color and VistaVision at the Music Hall yesterday. One stretch is when Frank Sinatra as the magazine writer sent to do a story on the mores of society plies the haughty heroine with wine and somewhat unhooks her inhibitions. Mr. Sinatra makes hay with this scene.

Some others are when Louis Armstrong and his band are beating out some catchy tunes that have been borrowed from old Cole Porter albums or especially written by him for this show. In spite of the austere suroundings of a gold-plated Newport chateau, Mr. Armstrong beams as brazenly as ever and lets the hot-licks fall where they may.

In the musical line, Mr. Sinatra and Bing Crosby also sing some fetching songs that more or less contribute to a knowledge of what is going on. Their best is "Well, Did You Evah?", a spoof of the haughty and blasé, and Mr. Crosby makes "I Love You, Samantha" (whoever she is) a pleasingly romantic thing.

However, there do come tedious stretches in this socially mixed-up affair, and they are due in the main to slow direction and the mildness of Miss Kelly in the pivotal role. The part was obviously written to be acted with a sharp cutting-edge. Miss Kelly makes the trenchant lady no more than a petulant, wistful girl.

And we must say that Mr. Crosby seems a curious misfit figure in the role of the young lady's cast-off husband who gets her back at the very end. He wanders around the place like a mellow uncle, having fun with Mr. Armstrong and his boys and viewing the feminine flutter with an amiable masculine disdain. He strokes his pipe with more affection than he strokes Miss Kelly's porcelain arms.

Contributing to the general hubbub of pre-wedding day preparations in the Newport set are John Lund as the stuffy fiancé, Celeste Holm as a smart photographer, Louis Calhern as a wicked old uncle and Margalo Gillmore as the mother of the bride. Lydia Reed as an impish younger sister is kept pretty closely confined. She appears to have the waspish nature that Miss Kelly could use to good advantage...

Monday, May 23, 2016


Bing Crosby's Last Song is not a biography of the last song crooner Bing Crosby ever recorded. Bing is actually only mentioned two or three times in the book. The 1998 novel is a very poignant story of Daly Racklin, a middle aged man of Irish descent living in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh in 1968. This story begins with a difficult conversation between Daly and his doctor... his doctor has just given him bad news about his heart condition. Daly's time is short and as is often the case when a person receives news such as this, he begins some serious self-examination and soul searching. This examination takes him on a path through not only his own life but the lives of his friends and family in his old crumbling Irish neighborhood.

Through Daly's interactions with other characters in the story... his family, friends and people in the neighborhood, the reader learns what kind of man Daly really is.. what 'stuff' he is made of. Daly is, like his father before him, an attorney; and also like his father, he is the 'strong one', the responsible one... the one everyone in the neighborhood goes to for help because he always takes care of his own. He takes care of everyone else but it soon becomes clear through the course of the story, that there doesn't seem to be anyone for DALY to turn to. And honestly, as the story went on, it seemed that perhaps Daly actually did not know HOW to allow people to help him. He didn't seem to be able to allow people to get close to him... perhaps that was his flaw and his 'cross to bear'. He was lonely... and now dying... and still couldn't figure out how to make that human connection.

This story of Daly Racklin WAS a sad one. He examined what sort of person he had been in his lifetime by holding his own life up next to his father's a kind of yardstick. For all the loneliness he felt, I do believe that ultimately he was at peace with himself and everything he had tried to do for others in his life.

I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, and I learned a lot about the different sections of the city - namely Oakland. I was not even around in 1968, so it held a particular fascination for me. I got a very different mental picture of the city as it was in 1968 and this made me consider what the Urban Renewal, mandated by the federal government after World War II, actually meant to the people in many of these ethnic neighborhoods. Some of the Irish dialect is hard to follow, but the book really draws you into life in a close knit Irish neighborhood. I highly recommend this sentimental novel...


Sunday, May 15, 2016


I haven't watched Saturday Night Live on Saturday nights at 11:30 in a long time - namely because I can not stay up that late anymore!

However, Bing was recently featured on the show! 

“Do you like Rihanna but wish she was really Eartha Kitt?” a hologram of the late Bing Crosby (played by Beck Bennett) asked on Saturday’s episode of Saturday Night Live. If your answer is yes, then the sketch show has a treat for you.

The late-night series used the same technology that’s been placing deceased singers on stage in hologram form to tease a spoof album called Dead Bopz that recreates “great artists from the past and makes them sing the songs of today.”

The fictional album features Paul Robeson’s cover of Fetty Wap’s “Trap Queen,” Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire singing a toe-tapping rendition of Pitbull’s “Give Me Everything,” and Ethel Merman — otherwise known as “the Selena Gomez of the ’50s” — covering “Hands to Myself.” Tupac also makes an appearance because, as Crosby says, “You can’t mention singing holograms without Tupac showing up.”

Pretty cool...

Sunday, May 8, 2016


On this Mother's Day, let's take some time to remember Catherine Harrigan Crosby. She made Bing into the man he would be become, the man that would be loved by millions through the generations...

Catherine Harrigan Crosby
February 7, 1873 - January 9, 1964

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


Der Bingle was born on this day - 113 years ago! Although his birth is what I remember most about May 3rd, here are some other events that happened on Bing's birthday...

1802-Washington, D.C. is incorporated as a city.

1867-The Hudson’s Bay Company gives up all claims to Vancouver Island.

1877-Labatt Park, the oldest continually operating baseball grounds in the world has its first game.

1921-West Virginia becomes the first state to legislate a broad sales tax, but does not implement it until a number of years later due to enforcement issues.

1937-Gone with the Wind, a novel by Margaret Mitchell, wins the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

1947-New post-war Japanese constitution goes into effect.

1948-The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Shelley v. Kraemer that covenants prohibiting the sale of real estate to blacks and other minorities are legally unenforceable.

1952-The Kentucky Derby is televised nationally for the first time, on the CBS network.

1957-Walter O'Malley, the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, agrees to move the team from Brooklyn, to Los Angeles.

1978-The first unsolicited bulk commercial email (which would later become known as “spam”) is sent by a Digital Equipment Corporation marketing representative to every ARPANET address on the west coast of the United States.

1979-After the general election, Margaret Thatcher forms her first government as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

1987-A crash by Bobby Allison at the Talladega Superspeedway, Alabama fencing at the start-finish line would lead NASCAR to develop the restrictor plate for the following season both at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega.

2001-The United States loses its seat on the U.N. Human Rights Commission for the first time since the commission was formed in 1947.